Lord Kṛṣṇa wanted to teach the world that the best of everything should be offered to the ruling chief of the country. King Ugrasena was the overlord of many dynasties and happened to be the grandfather of Kṛṣṇa, so Kṛṣṇa asked Satrājit to present the Syamantaka jewel to King Ugrasena. Kṛṣṇa pleaded that the best should be offered to the King. But Satrājit, being a worshiper of the demigods, had become too materialistic and, instead of accepting the request of Kṛṣṇa, thought it wiser to worship the jewel to get the 170 pounds of gold every day. Materialistic persons who can achieve such huge quantities of gold are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sometimes, therefore, to show special favor, Kṛṣṇa takes away one’s great accumulations of materialistic wealth and thus makes one a great devotee. But Satrājit refused to abide by the order of Kṛṣṇa and did not deliver the jewel.
After this incident, Satrājit’s younger brother, in order to display the opulence of the family, took the jewel, put it on his neck and rode on horseback into the forest, making a show of his material opulence. While Satrājit’s brother, who was known as Prasena, was moving here and there in the forest, a big lion attacked him, killed both him and the horse on which he was riding, and took away the jewel to his cave. News of this was received by the gorilla king, Jāmbavān, who then killed that lion in the cave and took away the jewel. Jāmbavān had been a great devotee of the Lord since the time of Lord Rāmacandra, so he did not take the valuable jewel as something he very much needed. He gave it to his young son to play with as a toy.
In the city, when Satrājit’s younger brother Prasena did not return from the forest with the jewel, Satrājit became very upset. He did not know that his brother had been killed by a lion and that the lion had been killed by Jāmbavān. He thought instead that because Kṛṣṇa wanted that jewel, which had not been delivered to Him, Kṛṣṇa might have therefore taken the jewel from Prasena by force and killed him. This idea grew into a rumor, which Satrājit spread in every part of Dvārakā.
The false rumor that Kṛṣṇa had killed Prasena and taken away the jewel spread everywhere like wildfire. Kṛṣṇa did not like to be defamed in that way, and therefore He decided that He would go to the forest and find the Syamantaka jewel. Taking with Him some of the important inhabitants of Dvārakā, Kṛṣṇa went to search out Prasena, the brother of Satrājit, and found him dead, killed by the lion. At the same time, Kṛṣṇa also found the lion killed by Jāmbavān, who is generally called Ṛkṣa. It was found that the lion had been killed by the hand of Ṛkṣa without the assistance of any weapon. Kṛṣṇa and the citizens of Dvārakā then found in the forest a great tunnel, said to be the path to Ṛkṣa’s house. Kṛṣṇa knew that the inhabitants of Dvārakā would be afraid to enter the tunnel; therefore He asked them to remain outside, and He Himself entered the dark tunnel alone to find Ṛkṣa, Jāmbavān. After entering the tunnel, Kṛṣṇa saw that the valuable jewel known as Syamantaka had been given to the son of Ṛkṣa as a toy. To take the jewel from the child, Kṛṣṇa approached and stood before him. When the nurse taking care of Ṛkṣa’s child saw Kṛṣṇa standing before her, she was afraid, thinking He might take away the valuable Syamantaka jewel, and she cried out loudly in fear.
Hearing the nurse’s cries, Jāmbavān appeared on the scene in a very angry mood. Jāmbavān was actually a great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, but because he was angry he could not recognize his master and thought Him to be an ordinary man. This brings to mind the statement of the Bhagavad-gītā in which the Lord advises Arjuna to get free from anger, greed and lust in order to rise to the spiritual platform. Lust, anger and greed run parallel in the heart and check one’s progress on the spiritual path.
Not recognizing his master, Jāmbavān challenged Him to fight. There was then a great fight between Kṛṣṇa and Jāmbavān, in which they fought like two opposing vultures. Whenever there is an eatable corpse the vultures fight heartily over the prey. Kṛṣṇa and Jāmbavān first of all fought with weapons, then with stones, then with big trees, then hand to hand, until at last they were hitting each other with their fists, their blows like the striking of thunderbolts. Each expected victory over the other, but the fighting continued for twenty-eight days, both in daytime and at night, without stopping.